The UC Santa Barbara Long Range Development Plan (LRDP) names “global and international issues” as one of four campus-wide themes that “…have emerged as cornerstones of the academic planning process.” As such, the Plan makes a central commitment to “…honor and meet its responsibilities as a global university by strengthening its partnerships with scholars and institutions around the world and celebrating and enhancing the diversity that enriches its living and learning environments.” While our campus made important progress toward these aspirations in the years leading up to the Plan’s 2010 debut—most notably in the founding of the Global Studies Department and the Orfalea Center for Global Studies—in the subsequent decade these efforts slowed considerably. Although the Department has continued to prosper, and the Orfalea Center is well-endowed and well-established, the inspiring broader vision of making UC Santa Barbara a truly global university remains largely unrealized. In order to fulfill this vision, an alliance of the Office of Research, the Deans of Social Sciences and Humanities, and the Directors of the major area studies and global studies centers on campus have come together to inaugurate the AreaGlobal Initiative (AGI).
The AGI seeks to provide an organizational and intellectual umbrella for the full spectrum of current centers, programs and initiatives that incorporate a global focus. In putting Global Studies and Area Studies in conversation, the Initiative is constituted as a space of generative research, some of which remains within the confines of a given world area (e.g. Latin America, Middle East), while other flows of activity which are comparative, relational or global in scope.
Propelled forward by core faculty and staff, these collaborative research endeavors also provide generative spaces for graduate student training and funding for graduate-level research associated with particular projects. These also provide enriching opportunities for undergraduate student involvement in the research process. Finally ,the constitutive centers collaborate in writing grants, leading fund raising efforts, and implementing extramural research awards and programming activities.